Pubdate: Tue, 14 Apr 2009
Source: Topeka Capital-Journal (KS)
Copyright: 2009 The Associated Press


WICHITA -- A federal grand jury is investigating the head of the Pain
Relief Network for her role in the case of a Kansas doctor whose
clinic prosecutors have linked to 59 overdose deaths.

Siobhan Reynolds, president of the Santa Fe, N.M.-based group, is a
subject in the grand jury investigation of possible obstruction of
justice in the case of Dr. Stephen Schneider and his wife, Linda,
according to court documents. A subject is a person of interest the
prosecution may be considering charging.

Reynolds' group has supported the Schneiders, who were indicted in
December 2007 on 34 counts alleging they unlawfully prescribed
painkillers and overbilled for services at their Haysville clinic. The
Schneiders maintain that they are innocent.

Reynolds confirmed that she is the subject of an investigation and
said a grand jury in Topeka has ordered her to provide documents
related to the Schneiders' case by Wednesday.

Reynolds has filed a motion asking a federal judge to throw out the
grand jury's subpoena and told The Associated Press that she would go
to jail rather than turn over the documents.

"I am going to fight it as far as I need to," she said. "If I were to
give in here, lawful advocacy against the United States in court will
effectively be brought to an end. So ... a lot is at stake here."

The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment.

However, in court documents filed last year in the Schneiders' case,
prosecutors portrayed Reynolds as having a "sycophantic or parasitic
relationship" with the couple. Prosecutors alleged she was using the
case to further her group's political agenda and her personal interests.

The group supports physicians charged with violations of the
Controlled Substances Act, Reynolds said, and has become involved in
about 15 such cases nationwide. The group filed a short-lived lawsuit
against the Justice Department after the Schneiders' indictment, but
withdrew it a month later.

The Topeka grand jury's subpoena, of which the AP obtained a copy,
ordered Reynolds to provide all correspondence with attorneys,
patients, Schneider family members, doctors and others related to the
criminal case and malpractice lawsuits against the Schneiders.

In her motion, Reynolds argued that turning over such documents would
destroy her work as a political activist and that it violates her
First Amendment rights of speech and association.

"This is a direct attempt to intimidate me and silence me," Reynolds

The subpoena also demanded bank and credit card statements showing
payments to and from clinic employees, patients, potential witnesses
and others.

Former Schneider patient Marti Beatty said a government investigator
recently interviewed him about his conversations with the group, which
he called "innocent and unexciting."

"He was trying to get me to say we as a group - or she really, in
particular - had ulterior motives," Beatty said of the investigator.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake